Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" November 2020 iMac (i5, 256GB SSD, Ventura 13.3, 40GB RAM), 4TB external SSD with Thunderbolt 3, Audirvana Origin, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 switch, Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Goldmund/Job 225 on subwoofer; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara, Meze 109 Pro; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf + sound|kaos DSUB15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Qualio IQ [on loan] Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Shanling M3 Ultra into Soundaware D300Ref SD transport to COS Engineering D1, iFi iDSD Pro Signature or Denafrips Terminator Plus 12th Anniversary firmware; Preamp/filter: Vinnie Rossie L2 Signature or icOn 4Pro, icOn 4th-order/80Hz active filter; Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini or Acelec Model One + Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF, Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; DAC: legacy Auralic Vega; Head/speaker amp: Enleum AMP-23R; Speakers: EnigmAcoustics Mythology M1; Headphones: Final D-8000
Upstairs headfi system: Source: Shanling M3 Ultra, Soundaware D300Ref; DAC/headamp: iFi iDSD Pro Signature; Headphones: Meze 109 Pro
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: CHF300/ea., from set of 8 CHF270/ea.
To hell with Prada! "I just finished the Wellfloat review. In it I A/B'd them and the big Carbide isolators beneath your sub. The Wellfloat, basically a miniaturized Boenicke SwingBase in a hard-anodized aluminium sandwich, was still more effective. So it was underneath the upstairs Dynaudio sub which I had on Divine's Kepler footers. How this manifested quite aside from obvious gains in clarity and time fidelity was relative loss of bass output. As these isolators get ever more effective, they cancel extra layers of structural gain that's always late and a bit behind the beat. Now I can dial in more bass volume with my active xover to make up for deleting some resonant floor gain. The bass gets even more articulate, enunciated and easily followed at low SPL. In any event, you mentioned working on your own footers so might like to know of a very effective approach." That was my February 2023 email to Martin Gateley of sound|kaos. To which he replied:
"I came to the same conclusion already. Am presently working up two larger footer designs. The first with a specialist anti-vibration PU foam disappointed a little since it overdamps. The Carbide feet are similar in that respect; just a little wooly and loose on definition. The 2nd design is along the lines of the SwingBase and Wellfloat. It uses three suspension wires. It's a challenge due to low height and compact dimensions. Found a local firm that does welded wire terminations to save on long clamped or crimped ends. Now my wires can be just 32mm short. I've attached some drawings."
Readers following my subwoofer adventures know how stubborn I am about proper floor isolators. The vast majority of commercial options runs roller balls in raceways of various geometry, viscoelastics like Sorbothane or a combination thereof. Ansuz and Carbide continue to experiment with nano layers of synthetic diamond, manganese copper alloy, tungsten and zirconium to render balls and bearings ever harder so more immune to deformation. That's key to minimal horizontal friction.
Wellfloat and Boenicke Audio exploit wire suspensions. Grand Prix Audio use hanging knuckle joints in their top rack, Stillpoints hang wires to clamp their rack supports to. Only the first two brands have minimized their wiring enough to slip beneath speakers and subs without raging cosmetic objections. Now sound|kaos arrived at my conclusion that under hifi transducers and subs in particular, the free-hanging pendulum principle might just be the most effective vibrational disruptor. Obviously the scientific approach demands comparisons. For Martin this meant crafting his own footers in all flavors before declaring a winner. That's R&D. DIYers who copy an existing commercial solution smugly bypass it when they loudly proclaim that "I can do that for pennies on their pound". When time is money and discarded prototypes more money, such claims are hollow. Only those who follow lengthy R&D procedures know just how much time, money and dead ends pooled into the final thing. When we purchase it, we respect that effort by seeing how it's part of the price.
It's not as though things fell ready-made from the invention tree. Yes, ideas are free. But manifesting them usually involves trial 'n' error which for today determined that wire suspension was the path forward. Crafting a device compact enough to look and work like a conventional footer, all free-floating trickery encapsulated, was the pain. The gain was to be the smallest such solution I'm aware of; a cylinder just 68mm across and 38mm tall.
To hell with pointy Prada heels. Hello cushy Nike Air soles for speakers, subs and regular components.
Or to use different imagery from a recent review, "think of being in a tropical floodzone on a platform raised on strong deep pylons. Atop it you could live in a cheap hut and thrive well before you get fancy. Meanwhile the posh manse right on the ground will be in trouble. Moving our hifi 'off the ground' and 'on stilts' with effective isolators gets it out of a virtual flood zone of floorborne resonances. Why should our sound drown and slow down in acoustic waters? Just because those are invisible unlike a flooded basement doesn't mean we're sitting pretty, high and dry. Much hifi noise is so baked in or insidious that we spot it only after subtraction. Now hearing is believing."
To drive size home, here's Boenicke's SwingBase whose custom strut length suits Martin's dual 15" sub front to back; and a quartet of Carbide Audio Base Diamond footers which combine two stages of ball bearings with industrial viscoelastics. To do their jobs, both of these effective solutions are big. They look appropriate under large kit like speakers and subs but arguably less so beneath standard components. Here size matters inversely. Smaller is better. It's the mandate the Vibra 68 follows whilst aiming to be as effective as these big boys, possibly still more so.
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